Film Review – Room 237

Room 237

Directed by: Rodney Ascher

Starring: Bill Blakemore, Buffy Visick, Geoffrey Cocks

Three and a half stars

Review by: Julian Wright

Show a film to five different people and you will get five different interpretations of what it is about. Half the fun of watching films, particularly with friends, is discussing what everyone takes away from it. The imagery in some films have far deeper meanings and purpose than others – go back and re-watch the opening of Melancholia and it makes more sense the second time. Heck, Holy Motors has sparked interesting discussions over what that strange piece of cinema is all about.

Of course these debated images usually serve the story the film is telling. However, there are some people who take it just that little bit further – finding subliminal messages and codes that go above and beyond the movie itself that ordinary film goers would probably never pick up on. Such is the subject of this fascinating documentary about some theories that surround The Shining. You wont look at the story of the Overlook Hotel or its off-season inhabitants again the same after seeing this doco.

Opening our eyes to another way of looking at Stanley Kubrick’s much-loved and renowned version of Stephen King’s novel is a handful of theorists that run us through what they think are the real meanings behind such things as pieces of set design, the layout of the hotel, body language, the number of cars parked outside the hotel. You name it, these people have found a hidden meaning for it. So passionate was man’s search for alternate meanings that he ran a copy of the film forward and another in reverse for funsies, overlapping the images – cue more kooky observations about how the images line up and what it all means.

The most fascinating thing is the sincerity in which these people, who have created hotel floor plan maps based simply on what they see in the film, explain their observations. It is easy to dismiss these people as crazy folk with far too much time on their hands – especially when the film is claimed to be proof of Kubrick’s involvement in the Moon landing “hoax” but what it does is celebrate the dissection of film – something we all do, albeit not usually to this extreme.

Keeping these theorists out of sight creates a barrier between the film and the audience – although it does add to the strange conspiracy theme of it all. At times blandly presented, this hangs on the stories that come from the voice overs, which do make for amusing yarns. But even if you do tire of these silly stories (the file on the office desk looks like an erect penis?!), one can still admire the sublime shots Kubrick assembled for The Shining, which we get to revisit here over and over.

Room 237 screened as part of the 2012 Melbourne International Film Festival.

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2 Responses to “Film Review – Room 237”

  1. Really really looking forward to sitting down with this one. Hopefully I can snag it sooner, rather than later.

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